When a lesbian couple wants to get married in California but are turned down because they can’t get a government-issued marriage license, they’re in for a surprise.
It’s not because the state has changed its stance on same-sex marriage.
California’s gay marriage ban still exists.
“In the state of California, if you are a same-gender couple who is seeking a marriage license and you are denied a marriage certificate, you are still in violation of the law,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.
“So the only way to get a valid marriage license is to get one in another state.”
In a move that was welcomed by the gay rights community, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week ordered the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in a “bulk issuance” system that would start next year.
The state will require those who want to get their licenses from another state to fill out a lengthy application process and provide a government issued license to prove they are in a same gender marriage.
That could take several months.
“If they don’t have that government issued form of identification, they will have to pay the fee,” said David Leavitt, executive director of the California State Bar Association.
“It’s not a cost that is going to be covered by taxpayers.”
While the state is issuing licenses, however, the federal government is not.
California and other states still allow gay marriage, but the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of same-state marriages soon.
California is a “snapshot” of the nation’s gay marriages, said Scott Gediman, executive vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group.
“As long as it is not legal in California, there is a right to marriage in all 50 states,” Gedman said.
“But the states that have the strongest opposition are not necessarily the states with the best record of protecting the rights of LGBT Californians.” “
California should not be the first to do this, and California should not get the credit for this change,” he added.
“But the states that have the strongest opposition are not necessarily the states with the best record of protecting the rights of LGBT Californians.”
California has not issued marriage licenses since June, and there is no guarantee the new system will be completed before next year, said Gedmans lawyer, Jonathan Rauch.
“What they are doing is creating an issue, and it is a big issue,” he said.
California already has more than 1,000 same-date marriages, including the ceremony of a gay couple that was originally scheduled for this week.
“The governor has the authority to act,” Gudmans attorney said.
While the new law will take effect next year it won’t take effect immediately.
The first same-location weddings to take place in California took place in San Francisco last month.
“I don’t know how long it will take, but it will happen,” said San Francisco resident Jessica Pendergast, who was told she couldn’t get the marriage license in time.
“They will be happy to get the license and move on with their lives.”
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